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Monday, November 4, 2013

Girls For Breakfast

Book Title: Girls For Breakfast 

Author: David Yoo

Genre: Young Adult Fiction 

Heritage: Korean American 

Published Date: 2006

Blurb: On his graduation day from Renfield High, Nick Park is determined to figure out if his heritage is the cause of his abysmal luck with girls.

Beginning the novel as an unreliable and unknowing comic narrator, Nick Park stuggles to fit into Renfield -- an alarming homogeneous Connecticut suburb as her grapples with his own ambivalence toward his ethnicity and his neurotic love for girls. Girls For Breakfast is a unique funny, unforttabel meditation on love and race, family and friendship, acceptance and isolation.

Nick Park is an ironic, sharp-edged commentator on the world of masculine angst, relationships and sex, and his commentary brings to the mix an intelligent, candid and irreverent inquiry into what it means to be an "ethnic" teenage boy in the white suburbs of late twentieth century American.

From killing a hamster in 3rd grade in front of his entire class, to contracting illicit photos of his 8th grade crush, to repeatedly lying about being a 4th degree black belt, Nick Park is a character that you will remember long after you close this book.

About the Author:

David Yoo is a graduate from Skidmore College with an MA from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is the author of the YA novels Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, a Chicago Best of the Best selection, and Girls For Breakfast (Delacorte), a Booksense Pick, an NYPL Books For the Teen Age Selection, and a Reading Rants Top Ten Books for Teens choice.

His first middle grade novel, The Detention Club (Balzer+Bray) was published in 2011. His first collection of essays, The Choke Artist: Confessions of a Chronic Underachiever (Grand Central) is forthcoming June 2012. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son, where he regularly plays adult soccer and old school video games. He teaches in the MFA program at Pine Manor College and at the Gotham Writers' Workshop.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Monsoon Summer

Book Title: Monsoon Summer

Author: Mitali Bose Perkins

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Heritage: Indian American

Published Date: 2004

Blurb: Jasmine "Jazz" Gardner heads off to India during the monsoon season. The family trip is her mother's doing: Mrs. Gardner wants to volunteer at the orphanage that cared for her when she was young. But going to India isn't Jazz's idea of a great summer vacation. She wants no part of her mother's do-gooder endeavors.

What's more, Jazz is heartsick. She's leaving the business she and her best friend, Steve Morales, started - as well as Steve himself. Jazz is crazy in love with the guy. If only he knew!

Only when Jazz reluctantly befriends Danita, a girl who cooks for her family, and who faces a tough dilemma, does Jazz begin to see how she can make a difference - to her own family, to Danita, to the children at the orphanage, even to Steve. As India claims Jazz, the monsoon works its madness and its magic. 

About the Author:

Mitali Bose Perkins was born in Kolkata, India. Her name means "friendly" in Bangla, and she had to try and live up to it because the Bose family moved so often - they lived in India, Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York City, and Mexico City before settling in the San Francisco Bay Area when she was in middle school. 

Mitali studied political science at Stanford University and public policy at University of California at Berkeley, surviving academia thanks to a steady diet of kids' books from public libraries and bookstores, and went on to teach middle school, high school, and college students. She lived in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and California with her husband and twin sons before the Perkins family moved to Newton, Massachusetts, where they live now.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Name Me Nobody

Title Book: Name Me Nobody

Author: Lois-Ann Yamanaka

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Heritage: Japanese American

Published Date: 2000

Blurb: Thirteen-year-old Emi-Lou feels like a nobody- she's overweight, her mom lives in faraway California and rarely visits or calls, and she doesn't know who her father is. The only people who make her feel like somebody are her brave, blunt grandma, and her best friend, Von. "Where Von go, Louie-Louie go", their families and friends say. But now Emi-Lou fears that Von is going somewhere she can't follow. You has feelings for Babes, an older girl on their softball team. Emi-Lou wants desperately for Von to be "normal", for them to be the same best friends they've always been. What will Emi-Lou be without Von? Nobody, she thinks. But her desperate actions to hold to her best friend just may break them apart forever.

About the Author:

Lois-Ann Yamanaka is a Japanese-American writer who grew up in Hawaii. With a unique voocie that often uses pidgin English, Yamanaka's novels tackle themes of Asian-American families and local Hawaiian culture. She is the author of Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, Blu's Hanging, Heads by Harry, Father of the Four Passages, and a young adult novel, Name Me Nobody. She is the winner of a 1998 Lannan Literary Award and the 1998 Asian American Literary Award, and lives in Honolulu with her husband and son.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Book Title: Weedflower

Author: Cynthia Kadohata

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Heritage: Japanese American

Published Date: 2006

Blurb: Twelve-year-old Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. The good part and the bad part. Raised on a glower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to. 

That all changes after the horrific events of Pearl Harbor. Other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor, even if, like Sumiko, they were born in the United States! As suspicions grow, Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in one of the hottest deserts in the United States. The vivid color of her previous life is gone forever, and now dust storms regularly choke the sky and seep into every crack of the military barrack that is her new "home."

Sumiko soon discovers that the camp is on an Indian reservation and that the Japanese are as unwanted there as they'd been at home. But then she meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her fist real friend...if he can ever stop being angry about the fact that the internment camp is on his tribe's land.

With searing insight and clarity, Newbery Medal-winning author Cynthia Kadohata explores an important and painful topic through the eyes of a young girl who yearns to belong. Weedflower is the story of the rewards and challenges of a friendship across the racial divide, as well as the based-on-real-life story of how the meeting of Japanese Americans and Native Americans changed the future of both.

About the Author:

Cynthia Kadohata is a Japanese American writer known for writing coming of age stories about Asian American women. She was born in 1956 in Chicago, Illinois USA. She had a BA in journalism from the University of Southern California. She is the author of the Newbery Medal-wining book kira-kira, Weedflower, and several critically acclaimed adult novels, including The Floating World. She has published numerous short stories in such literary journals as the New Yorker, Ploughshares, Grand street, and the Mississippi Review. She now lives with her son and dog in West Covina, California.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

American Born Chinese

Book title: American Born Chinese

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Heritage: Chinese American

Published Date: 2006

Blurb:  All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he had hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl....

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax--and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

About the Author:

Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese American writer of graphic novels and comics.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rice Without Rain

Book title: Rice Without Rain
Author: Minfong Ho
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Heritage: Thai American
Published Date: 1990

Blurb: Another dry season - another silent harvest!

The parched yellow fields outside the village where seventeen-year-old Jinda lives are her family's only source of income. How can the rain-starved crop produce enough rice to feed them, much less pay the rent? Perhaps the recently arrived young strangers from the city are right about the need for centuries-old traditions to change. At least when she listens to their talk, she feels the stirrings of hope...

Hesitantly, Jinda grows to trust the outsider. There is Sri, who brings with her life-saving medicines and knowledge of how to use them. And there is Ned, who talks of talking charge of one's own destiny, and fighting those who would stand in the way. It is almost too late when Jinda realizes that her trust is misplaced - that to Sri and Ned their cause is more important than the lives it would affect. Against a vividly evoked backdrop of rural and urban Thailand, Jinda heroically faces the challenges of holding on to who is as the world around her revolves in what seems to be never-ending change.

After social rebels convince the headman of a small village in northern Thailand to resist the land rent, his seventeen-year-old daughter Jinda finds herself caught up in the student uprising in Bangkok.

About the Author:

Minfong Ho is an award winning Chinese American writer. She was born in Rangoon, Burma, and raised in both Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand. Her parents are of Chinese origin, so she spoke fluent Chinese in her home, Thai in the marketplace of Bangkok and English in school. She was educated in Thailand and Taiwan, before moving to the United States to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. There, she received her BA in Economics and History as well as her M.F.A in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York with her husband John and children Danfung, MeiMei, and Christopher. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl's Story

Book title: Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl's Story

Author: Pegi Deitz Shea

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Heritage: Hmong American

Published Date: 2003

Blurb: For the Hmong people living in overcrowded refugee camps in Thailand, America is a dream: the land of peace and plenty. In 1995, ten years after their arrival at the camp, thirteen-year-old Mai Yang and her grandmother are about to experience that dream. In American, they will be reunited with their only remaining relatives, Mai's uncle and his family. They will discover the privileges of their new life: medical care, abundant food, and an apartment all their own. But Mai will also feel the pressures of life as a teenager. Her cousins, now known as Heather and Lisa, try to help Mai look less like a refugee, but following them means disobeying Grandma and Uncle. From showers and smoke alaims to shopping, dating, and her family's new religion, Mai finds life in America complicated and confusing. Ultimately, she will have to reconcile the old ways with the new, and decide for herself the kind of woman she wants to be. This archetypal immigrant story introduces readers to the fascinating Hmong culture and offers a unique outsider's perspective on our own. 
After ten years in a refugee camp in Thailand, thirteen-year-old Mai Yang travels to Providence, Phode Island, where her Americanized cousins introduce her to pizza, shopping, and beer, while her grandmother and new friends keep her connected to her Hmong hertiage.

About the Author:

Pegi Deitz Shea, a recipient of the Connecticut Book Award, has written many children's books. She lives in Rockville, Connecticut. 

In the Shadow of the Banyan

Book title: In the Shadow of the Banyan 

Author: Vaddey Ratnar

Genre: Young Adult fiction

Heritage: Cambodian American

Published Date: 2010 / 2012

Blurb: For seven year old Raami, the shattering end of childhood begins with the footsteps of her father returning home in the early dawn hours bringing details of the civil war that has overwhelmed the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital. Soon the family's world of carefully guarded royal privilege is swept up in the chaos of revolution and forced exodus. 

Over the next four years, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of her childhood - the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father - and fights for her improbably survival. In a climate of systematic violence where memory is sickness and justification for execution, Raami fights for improbable survival. In the Shadow of the Banyan is testament to the transcendence power of narrative and brilliantly wrought tale of human resilience.

About the Author:

Vaddey Ratner was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. Having endured four years under the brutal regime, she arrived in the United States in 1981 as a refugee not knowing English and eventually went on to graduate summa cum laude from the Cornell University, where she specialized in Southeast Asian history and literature. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.

Children of the River

Book title:  Children of the River

Author: Linda Crew

Genre: Young Adult fiction 

Heritage: Cambodian American 

Published Date: 1989

Blurb: Sundara fled Cambodia with her aunt's family to escape the Khmer Rouge army when she was thirteen, leaving behind her parents, her brother and sister, and the boy she had loved since she was a child. Now, four years later, she struggles to fit in at her Oregon high school and to be "a good Cambodian girl" at home. A good Cambodian girl never dates; she waits for her family to arrange her marriage to a Cambodian boy. Yet Sundara and Jonathan, an extraordinary American boy, are powerfully drawn to each other. Haunted by grief for her lost family and for the life she left behind, Sundara longs to be with him. At the same time she wonders, Are her hopes for happiness and a new life in American disloyal to her past and her people?

About the Author:

Linda Crew and her husband run Wake Robin Farm in Corvallis, Oregon, where they live with their three children. This remarkable novel won an Honorable Mention in the Fifth Annual Delacorte Press Prize for an Outstanding First Young Adult Novel Contest.

Linda Crew's friendships with the Cambodian refugees who work on the farm inspired her to write this novel.